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Ancient Greek culture built the foundation of the Western world as we know it. From Homer, the author of epic poetry, to the philosopher-king Plato, a lot of what we know and understand today has been significantly inspired by ancient Greek culture.
One echo through the ages is how ancient Greek mythology has inspired modern business names. A number of businesses are based on Greek legend, their ancient deities and their mythos.
Below, we’re exploring the folklore behind 5 household brands and how they continue to inspire 21st-century businesses.
The story of the marathon is based in ancient Greek mythology. When the Athenians won the Battle of Marathon, a man called Pheidippides was tasked with delivering the message to the capital. He had no horse or cart, so he ran the full 26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens.
When he arrived in Athens, he shouted “Nike!”, who was the Greek goddess of victory (more on that later) he then collapsed and died. To honour Pheidippides' memory, the first modern marathon was held at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens and has been a staple in competitive running ever since.
Pheidippides did not just inspire the world's most famous race, but a number of businesses too. As the marathon came synonymous with determination, grit and success, successive new ventures started using the name ‘marathon’. Most notably the Marathon Bar, which is returning to the UK after being replaced by Snickers.
In ancient Greek religion, Nike was the goddess of victory. She was the daughter of the giant Pallas and of the infernal river Styx. She was always shown as the goddess of speed and strength; which encompasses everything Nike wants to be as a brand.
The Nike ‘swoosh’ is said to have derived from the goddess’ wings. Signifying the sound of speed, motivation and power.
In modern times, Hermes is known as a German-owned delivery service. You could be forgiven in thinking the word ‘Hermes’ was derived from the Germanic language, but it actually comes from ancient Greece.
The son of Zeus and of the nymph Maia, Hermes was the Greek god of trade, fertility, sleep, language, travel and (worryingly) thieves. He was the patron of shepherds, invented the lyre and was the guide between the realms of the Gods and humanity.
Seen as a mischievous character who constantly searched for amusement, Hermes at one point had stolen Poseidon’s Trident, Artemis’ Arrows and Aphrodite’s Griddle. Lucky for us, Hermes the delivery company is less roguish in their approach and don’t pinch our parcels.
Argos was named by the founder Richard Tompkins after the city in Greece. He named it Argos, so it would be one of the first companies to show in the Yellow Pages. A little known fact is that the word Argos comes from the myth of an all-seeing giant with 100 eyes called: Argos Panoptes. Which is something you’d expect to see in the kids’ toys section of the catalogue.
Argos was said to never have slept and kept one of its eyes on everything. It was killed by Hermes after the god lured the monster to sleep. It could be argued that the demise of the physical Argos catalogue was because of online delivery. This is an unusual parallel between Argos and Hermes that has spanned through the ages.
We all know the proverb of ‘opening Pandora’s box’ and it is one of the most famous pieces of Greek mythology that still remains. As the story goes, Pandora (much like Eve in the Bible) was the first mortal woman and was made by the Greek god Hephaestus (a god of fire and patron of craftsmen).
Pandora had a ‘jar’ that contained all misery and diseases, which she opened and all the world's evils flew out of the jar over the earth. Only hope remained in the jar when it was quickly shut by Pandora. The jar became a box when it was mistranslated in the 16th century.
Using myths from the ancients can be a great way of differentiating yourself from the crowd. But you don’t need a PhD in the classics in order to come up with a business name. Take a look at our free business name generator below and within 30 seconds you will have a choice of 18 business names.
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